I must confess I am not a fan of one popular trope that can be found in many romance stories and that is the will they won’t they story. It’s why I very rarely enjoy romantic comedies. I’m not saying I hate all stories with this trope. It just feels very over played for me, especially when it comes to romantic comedies. There are some exceptions to this for me though and today’s manga which I read on Futekiya is one of the most adorable boys love titles I have read in a long time.
The manga tells the story of salaryman Ayumu Koiwai and his little crush on the man who refills the vending machine in his building and for Iwai this is a crush that is driving him mad, he can not even talk to the man without blushing, little does he realize the Yamashita also has a little crush on the cute salaryman.
Now if this story had gone down the route of the two of them constantly trying to ask each other out only for the punchline of a joke being for them to constantly be interrupted, I would have lost interest in this manga very quickly. Lucky for me and many other readers the story sees the two of them begin a cute romance of dating, getting to know each other and even a little bit of drama that is just enough to bring a little excitement to the story but not enough to break the adorable slice of life aspects of the story. It
It’s a comfy read that leaves you wanting to keep reading at the end of each chapter with a very satisfying and adorable ending and with each chapter originally being released daily the story kept me coming back each day to see what happens next. The whole story is now released and is a cute read I recommend for those new to the BL genre but also has enough of a touch of spice near the end that will keep veterans of the genre satisfied as well.
Sometimes a blind buy can bring us surprising joy. When it came to this particular manga that I stumbled across over on Bookwalker I was instantly enthralled by the gorgeous cover art of this series. After all when it comes to yaoi stories involving monster men I must confess I have an affinity and love of bird like monsters or anything with wings and when I saw the beautiful feathers of the beast on the cover of this title well I knew I had to give this one a read.
In nature bright colors are a warning to predators of dangerous poison and within the mystical human like birds known as Zhen their diet consists of many different poisons and depending on how toxic the poison the creature ingest with determine how beautiful its plumage will become.
In the land in which this story takes place the ownership and taming of a Zhen is considered one of the greatest of status symbols for a noble. The most beautiful Zhen owned by a noble is Cai Hong and his previous owner was considered one of the greatest tamers of these wild beasts until he is one day found dead, killed by his prize Zhen’s poison. Now Cai Hong belongs to the brother of this man General Fei who is a well known hater of these barbaric creatures and honestly wants nothing to do with the beast that killed his brother. Being a yaoi story you can guess where this tale will go, what starts as a tale of hatred soon turns into something more as the truth about both the creature’s and General Fei’s past turns into understanding between the two and maybe even something more.
But how can someone love when that love is poisonous in more ways than one?
The story of this manga kept me hooked from beginning to end and the gorgeous artwork is some of the most stunning I have seen in any yaoi manga and the world building throughout the story is also extremely fascinating and made me wish I could visit the land where the mystical Zhen live. If you are a yaoi fan who loves an engaging story told through stunning artwork and have a taste for feathered monsters like myself then you owe it to yourself to check out this amazing title over on bookwalker right here.
Now let’s start of these fun times with a fun little yaoi manga shall we? For on this first day of the 12 Days of Yaoi I present to you Liquor and Cigarette by Ranmaru Zariya, one of my favourite manga reads this year! A big thankyou to SuBLime for giving this manga an official English release and yours truly got her copy through Amazon on Kindle, I swear this year Kindle and a few other sites and apps have been my savior when it comes to reading!
Theo runs his family’s Liquor store and his childhood best friend works just across the street from him in a cigarette store that woman come from other towns just to be his customers. His friend Camilo is a known flirt but does not seem to date anyone who takes interest in him be they women or men which he has shown interest in both because he has openly stated that he is bi and lately Camilo has been a lot more forward with his attraction to his childhood friend.
Exploring themes of sexuality, slight internalized homophobia, and the classic trope of friends to lovers Liquor and Cigarette is a fun boys love read that has just enough drama to keep you hooked without being over melodramatic. The only real issue I think some readers might find with this story is at the beginning of the experimental relationship between the two main characters Theo relies quite heavily on liquid courage and this may bring up some consent issues for some readers so I feel it is only right to pre warn any new reader of this story.
The artwork is what drew me into this series I especially love the amount of emotion the author and artist Ranmaru Zariya is able to convey in the characters eyes in particular, they just seem to stare into you soul making you want to invite them in, especially on the cover which is what initially drew me to the title. It’s no wonder then that another of their works Coyote which I have yet had a chance to read has been on everyone’s must read list this year.
I hope you enjoyed the first day of 12 Days of Yaoi here on Yaoi Playground, stay tuned tomorrow when I will be discussing my favourite yaoi game of the year but also give an honest review about some of the minor problems with the game…
Last month I wrote a post about the latest update to censorship laws here in Australia and how they are affecting the anime community and especially those who enjoy the adult side of the fandom. I jut want to give a big thankyou to everyone who supported my post Yaoi Could Soon Be Banned In Australia and I want to answer a question that was made to me a few days a go.
If everything is banned in your country will Yaoi Playground come to an end?
If it becomes illegal will I stop? No, I will be standing by my views on what I love and will still review yaoi and anime. As it stands at the moment it is looking it will only be illegal to own physical copies of certain works, it does not pertain to digital copies which will just get more support from me for the foreseeable future.
Liking yaoi, hentai and anime does not make a person a danger to others, I am living proof of that. This censorship saga here in Australia is a dangerous moral panic that will not end with anime I can guarantee that one. Once they start down the road of censorship like this, who knows what will be next and it is for this reason why I have decided what my next review here on Yaoi Playground will be, as for this situation it feels oh so appropriate for social commentary right now. Plus it’s one of my all time favourite anime!
No that title is not click bait, but damn do I wish it was. This post relates all the way back to a post I made in February, you know the one about Senator Stirling Griff? Well the saga of the Australian Government’s war on anime and manga has continued on unnoticed by many, even I must admit I was caught of guard by the latest update on the whole mess.
On October 14th, 2020 popular anime merch and other Japanese products website J-list made an announcement to their Australian customers.
DHL Japan called us last week, informing us that Australian customs have started rejecting packages containing any adult product. They then advised us to stop sending adult products to the country. Following that, current Australian orders with adult items in them were returned to us this week. The full post can be read here.
This means that as of right now, Australian’s can no longer order 18+ items from J-list whether they depict loli or adult characters. Now banning the stuff based on under age characters I can understand to a certain point. Though I do not personally agree with the law as previously stated countless times on this blog, if the drawn character is clearly under age then it is child porn, which is bad. Even though logically a drawing is not a victim. With that logic you could argue that every lewd image ever drawn is bad because the ‘character’ did not give consent.
Let’s say if right now I wanted to buy the Dramatical Murder figure in the image below, I am using this as an example because this is a figure that has been on my Wishlist for years now. Right now I’m not even sure if I bought it if I could legally bring it into the country.
It is only a matter of time at this point as to whether or not they will start banning various yaoi titles for release in Australia. The No Game No Life light novels have already banned and at this point I am not even sure for how long I will be able to actually legally buy manga volumes of the genre I love so much, I mean let’s face it the content is something like say Yarichin Bitch Club is a lot more lewd than No Game No Life. That being said, the ban of the light novel is not going to make me stop loving the series.
I’m a yaoi fan who loves yaoi, Oriemo, Eromanga Sensei and No Game No Life. I will always love what I love because I am not hurting anyone with my hobbies. I am not corrupting the youth of the nation and I a consenting adult who works hard every day and enjoys relaxing with some anime and manga and I have to ask what is so fucking wrong about that?
This is a manga that hardcore in your face yaoi wise right from the first page and if you are not ready for that then maybe this is not a manga for you, that being said the opening sex scene like the rest of this manga is beautifully illustrated. You don’t know who these characters are which gives the opening pages to this manga an almost voyeuristic feel because the reader has been given no build up as to who these characters are other than the sensual image of the cover and the story synopsis if you read that before starting of course.
As it turns out though this one-shot manga is the classic tale of dubious consent that will either be a guilty pleasure for the reader or a problematic trope within the boys love genre that you may want to avoid if this trope is not your cup of tea. One of the most common story types to come with dubious consent within the boys love genre is that of the man in debt and more often or not this is a debt that has either been inherited from a dead family member or dumped on them by one. See titles like Shounen Maid Kuro-kun and Okane ga Nai for examples of these kinds of stories.
This one shot tells the story of Nayu a young man who’s father has skipped town and left his son with his debt to pay off, as I stated before if you have read this kind of yaoi story before you know the formula. Character inherits debt, ends up having to pay off that debt with either sexual favors to who that debt is to or in more hardcore scenarios ends up as a sex slave or prostitute, these ones are less common though. In this scenario Nayu must become the live in lover of the man who holds his father’s debt, so in a way it kind of reminded me of Okane ga Nai, though unlike an ongoing series like Okane ga Nai there is no where near as much character development throughout the story so again it will really come down to preference whether you will enjoy this manga or not. As a quick guilty pleasure read it was enjoyable for me but if any of the tropes I have mentioned are not to your taste perhaps give this one a skip if you want something a bit more wholesome.
I hope all you lovely fujoshi, fudanshi and everyone in between have had a happy and safe week. Maybe you caught up on some of your reading or anime watching? I know I still have so much to catch up on. This will be small post this week with only one story that is yaoi specific but the other story I feel is worth sharing because it relates back to a post I made earlier this year.
BlLits is an independent Yaoi/Boys development team behind the game Camp Buddy, a yaoi visual novel set in a summer camp themed camp. It is a game that has been on my own to play list for quite a few years and I do plan to play it when I get a chance to, the art is just so adorable! Well, on July 22nd BLits made an announcement of job opportunities with the company on their official site! These jobs are to help the team translate the game into various languages including French, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese. For this task they are looking for a Translation Manager and Translators/Translation Reviewers. If this sounds like the kind of job that interests you check out there site here!
The second story I have to share might not at first seem like a yaoi/boys love story but it is an issue that can and will eventually hit the genre we all love, especially my fellow yaoi lovers here in Australia and this all goes back the Senator Stirling Griff. His people are moving forward with their plans to remove certain manga from sale in Australia. Now I will say this, the following titles have not been legally banned from sale in Australia yet, but they have been pulled from the shelves of bookstore Books Kinokuniya at their Sydney store.
The titles pulled from store shelves are the following…
Sword Art Online
No Game No Life
And why were these titles removed? Why for promoting child pornography because they depict young looking characters and sexually suggestive content. I wish I was not being serious with that statement but sadly this is the argument behind this. Eventually I will have to write a post I think about how I personally believe how out of touch Australia’s child exploitation laws are when it comes to media but that is a discussion for another time, but all I will say is this. The government is so concerned with saving fictional children and at the end of the day the characters in these stories are fictional children when there are still so many actual children falling through the cracks of our system and past victims begging for some justice who deserve attention more than some drawn pictures.
It might not seem like it now, looking at that list of titles that this does not affect the yaoi community here in Australia but it will eventually reach the titles we read and watch. I can easily see titles like Super Lovers, Loveless and even Junjou Romantica (because of the Junjou Terrorist story line) being taken off the shelves or outright banned from being owned eventually here in Australia. So yes this is a problem that will affect us as well.
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I have been on the fence for the last few months whether I wanted to read The Titan’s Bride or not and I will openly admit it was all because of one word in the genre of the story.
Now don’t get me wrong there are some really good isakai stories out there in anime and manga, but like anything that becomes popular the market can very quickly become over saturated with subpar lazy boring pieces of crap that make it feel like you are digging through a pile of shit looking for the occasional diamond but more times than note finding nothing more than cubic zirconia. Add to that the fact that I am a fan of traditional fantasy stories and that finding a good fantasy anime or manga since the rise of isakai has become almost impossible these last few years. Not to say there have not been some good fantasy anime over the last year or so, Interspecies Reviewers and Goblin Slayer were big highlights for me when it came to watching anime. So basically what I am saying is I went into this series with not very high hopes and to be honest, it was not as bad as I was expecting.
Is it a masterpiece that will drastically change the yaoi genre? Hell no, it is filled with many of the tropes and trappings of the yaoi genre that those outside and within the fandom find problematic, it’s biggest sin of being sexual assault equals love, thankfully it does not as bad as this trope is in the manga The Tyrant Falls in Love and to a certain extent there are consequences to the initial problem and we do get to see something that is not seen too often when this trope does come up. The characters talk about their relationship and this is something I can highly praise the story for, but then not long after this happens one of the main characters ends up under the influence of a poison that basically makes him sex crazed at night which again could be seen as problematic to some if you don’t like stories that don’t show clear consent between characters during sex.
As the story has moved forward though, there has been some real character growth between the two main characters and there is also less of a consent issue with the latest chapters as well. Also for a yaoi series that on surface looks like it is very much porn without plot there is an amazing amount of world building within the story as we the reader get to learn about the kind of world we have been brought in and even learn about the political climate of said world.
I will admit when I first started reading this one I had a few moments where I almost stopped reading it because of the first couple of chapters of the story felt really cliche but as the story moved forward it has slowly become an enjoyable read. If you would like to read The Titan’s Bride you can read it officially on the mobile app Coolmic.
Kaze to Ki no Uta or as many will know it as Song of the Wind and Trees is a true classic of the yaoi and boys love genre and is considered by many to be one of the first yaoi manga’s even though it was released at the time as a shoujo title. With its themes on race and homosexuality, it was a story before it’s time and is beloved by many within the yaoi community the world over, even though the manga itself has never had an official release in the west and the same is sadly true for the OVA anime, which I reviewed here. A recent announcement from JPopManga an Italian publisher which releases manga in Italian has announced an official release of the manga series.
This is huge news for the western yaoi and boys love community and has this fujoshi herself hoping for a future English release of the series.
With her psychedelic creepy Kawai with an overtone of sexual content, the artwork of Junko Mizuno is some of my favorite artists out there and my all time favorite manga is Pure Trance. Written in the late 90’s and then getting an English release in 2005 it is still available today for purchase on Amazon at a very reasonable price (on the American site at least). But looking at the cover of this strange manga you might be wondering, what the hell is this?
This manga is very dark in tone, I will tell you that right now, much like most on Junko’s work what might look strange yet cute it will always have a darker side. Pure Trance is a sci-fi story taking place in the far future after world war 3, a war which has sent humankind off the surface and underground, but that’s ok humans have a great life underground. The main character of the story is a nurse who works at Overeaters Treatment Center 102 where she tries to help her patients. Unfortunately, her job is made difficult by the woman in charge of the treatment center who is a drug addict who uses her position to get what she craves most.
It was the art style that caught my interest when it came to the work of Junko and Pure Trance but it was the strong female characters, interesting character development and world building that had me hooked on Pure Trance. Little snippets of information about the world she has created in this manga can be found at the bottom of nearly every page. These can be explanations of products, devices, hobbies the characters take part in or creatures scattered throughout the story and I really loved this. It added an extra intriguing level to an already weird narrative and in a way almost made it feel more grounded in a believable reality, well almost I don’t think cloning is a popular hobby amongst young women just yet.
It was seeing this image on an image board site that made me want to check out what Pure Trance is
The manga deals with themes of social norms, eating disorders, self-harm, drug use and finding one’s self in the chaos that surrounds us in the world. It is because of these themes that Pure Trance may not be a good starting point for someone new to Junko Mizuno’s work. One manga I would recommend to someone new to her work is Mermaid Princess, which is a strange re-imagining of the classic tale of the little mermaid, a safer place to start down the rabbit hole that is Junko Mizuno.
Though not the best quality this is a really cool interview with the artist herself, being interviewed by a familiar face to any top gear fan on his previous show Japanorama.